8 Mar 2017
Vulnerable young people facing a homelessness crisis are being found temporary accommodation with local families, thanks to a scheme supported by Aylesbury Vale District Council. Aylesbury Nightstop, was set up by the local charity Youth Concern. It helps prevent those aged between 16-25, who are dealing with complex issues in their family life, from having to sofa-surf or sleep rough, by providing them with a safe place to stay in a host’s home.
Volunteer hosts offer a spare room and an evening meal for up to two weeks. During that time Youth Concern’s Nightstop staff can support the young people to help address the problems that caused them to become homeless. The charity also provides help to secure a longer-term, settled place to live and to help the young people get back on their feet.
All young people who are referred to the Nightstop scheme are risk-assessed and the hosts receive training and expenses, as well as 24 hour on-call support. Paul and Lisa, from Bedgrove in Aylesbury, who have two young sons, Theo and Isaac, have been hosts for Nightstop for four months, and are very supportive of the scheme, Lisa said: “The young people who have stayed with us have been happy to fit into our busy schedule and we have enjoyed getting to know each of them and hearing a little of their story, during their short stays. People often remark that it’s a ‘big risk’ to invite a stranger into your house, however we have never had a bad experience and Youth Concern are on-call for support or advice 24/7 and regularly check in with us.”
Gemma (whose name has been changed to protect her identity) is one of the young people who has used the Nightstop service and it made a big difference to her: “The hosts were nice and made me feel relaxed. I was safe and comfortable. I would recommend Nightstop to anyone who is in need, they give you a safe place to stay to stop you sleeping on the streets.”
Youth Concern’s Nightstop scheme is one of the projects that has received funding from the Homeless Support Fund which is managed by AVDC. In 2016, Nightstop helped 66 young people in the Vale and the demand has been increasing year on year. Councillor Angela Macpherson, AVDC’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Leisure and Civic Ammenities, said: “Nightstop plays a vital role in the prevention of youth homelessness by providing an immediate response to young people facing a homelessness crisis. Hosts within the community do an amazing job at opening their homes to a vulnerable young person, providing a refuge when they need it most.”
Nightstop are currently looking for compassionate people in Aylesbury, with a spare room, to join their team of hosts and provide a young person with a safe place to stay for a few nights. If you think you might be able to help please contact Youth Concern’s Chief Executive firstname.lastname@example.org more information.